What should Catholics think of the death penalty?

I am a Catholic who struggles with the Church’s position on the death penalty, especially in the case of murder, child molestation, and other violent crimes. I understand issues of the sanctity of life and that our final judgment comes from God. I have thought about this a great deal and believe that such offenders might truly repent of their sin, if allowed to live. Still, I think they should never be set free from prison.

I am tired of those who murder others getting off as easily as they do via our current judicial system. I am tired of hearing about children being molested by repeat offenders or others victims of violent crime having suffered at the hands of individuals who should never have been let out of prison for prior offenses.

I believe that here are cases where the death penalty could be applied. I do not try to argue against the Church about this, but I feel there are times when the death penalty should be applied. Serial killers come to mind. I don’t want to be at odds with the Church, so this is a matter I feel I am obedient to but not entirely in agreement with.

Forgive me, but I couldn’t find a question in your text. (The title question was my edit of your original title, “Catholics and the death penalty.”) If you are feeling qualms about your position on the death penalty – as seems possible from your statement “I don’t want to be at odds with the Church, so this is a matter I feel I am obedient to but not entirely in agreement with” – then perhaps you should hold your argument here up to critical cross-examination.

I’m not saying that you’re wrong. The Church does allow for the death penalty under certain conditions. But if you truly desire to be in agreement with the mind of the Church on the matter, perhaps you should consider reading the ideas of others on the Church’s contemporary position on the death penalty. The articles below should give you a start.

Recommended reading:

War and Capital Punishment by Jimmy Akin (sidebar)
The Church’s Evolving View on the Death Penalty by Abp. Wilton D. Gregory

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